CORRUPTION : INDIAN POLICE SCENARIO

Mr.Justice B.P.Jeevan Reddy, the law Commission Chairman while talking on the provision of forfeiture of property illegally acquired by public servants under the proposed bill titled the " Corrupt Public Servants (Forfeiture of Property) Act, 1999" said, "Corruption has been severely affecting the country's economy, security and administration. To weed out this dreaded disease from public life, we need a bitter medicine". All previous measures to rein- in corruption in public life failed because nothing mattered as far as the ill-gotten property is safe a huis clos. Situation may change tout ensemble after the proposed legislation becomes law and gallows the corrupt of wiping out the very corpus of the corrupt deeds and striking at the very roots of corruption.

Corruption unfortunately has become an accepted phenomenon in extant Indian society. No more it attracts societal disapproval or contempt. Wealth is seen as wealth whether it is begotten by fair or illegitimate means. Nowadays, jobs having means of easy money are sought and bought at all costs. It is why such jobs command high premium in the job market. It is no secret why jobs in select departments in government service are in high demand. And within these departments there are specific posts that command high premium on account of their potentiality to generate enormous wealth by unfair and illegitimate means. Such jobs command money in multiple suitcases in advance to the posting in addition to periodical profferings for keeping the job terms because those payments are proved sagacious investments. Politicians, journalists to the

victims of the system while condemning the vicious practice from the public platform accept it as the sine qua non reality of the life. The sterling question is whether corruption in any form with the concomitant atrophy in administration and public life should be tolerated to disgorge the vitals of the Indian democratic fabric.

It is tragic that the police which is morally and professionally bound to protect the public from the vice of corruption is among the avant coureur in the pernicious race. Sadly, the addiction is uniform at all ranks from Police Constables to Police Commissioners save rare exceptions. The corrupt practices take disparate forms in diverse circumstances, but all leading to the same unfortunate end: derailing the rule of law and the loss of credibility of the police.

A south Indian state saw in 1998 several wars of attrition between a Police Commissioner and his political boss about posting of their own favourites to key positions, leading to messy and dangerous situations like more than one police officer being posted to the same key post of profit and all of them holding to it fast for months together. Often fightings broke out among the contenders in the same post for the loaves of power and other behoofs and such matters made headlines in newspapers. It is wrong to heap all blames tout a fait on any one side as corrupt. Certainly no side is a paradigm of virtues in the extent rat-race for pelf and booty. Corruption in India has become just a rider of the availability of opportunities to share the res gestae of the power.

Police is an institution in the service of law and order. Every case of corruption involving the police represents a case of the rule of law and justice harrowed. Imaging the extent of the distortion of the rule of law and justice and the betrayal of the hoi polloi by the police machinery that apportions in some cases a crore of rupees a year to middle-ranking official as the illgotten money. The mise en scene is complete with the swarms of police officials of all ranks au reste warring inter se with wads of high denomination notes to corner posts potential of generating unlimited illegitimate wealth. Added to this is those apparatchik at the top making transfers and postings a thriving business. What can be expected from a law and order machinery run with such a symbion, but gross abuse and distortion of the rule of law? That is why police is often called the legalised mafia.

Karnataka had a Superintendent of Police in northern district in 1980 who openly encouraged those down the line to take bribes and shared the booty. He used to insist that they were free to allow illegal activities like gambling dens, prostitution, illicit distillation etc. in their respective areas, provided the criminals remain under their control and run the activities pro rata to what they proffer to the police. A maffled logic indeed. Naturally, he was very popular among the corrupt , subordinates. He left the district in 1981 and thereafter luckily went on central deputation, never to return to the state sinsyne.

Corruption has disparate facets. And each has its distorted justification. There is a case of a Police Commissioner whose misuse of the police machinery in the marriage of

his daughter in 1998 became a stormy issue in the public eyes after press made it big. The press claimed that the subordinate police officers were forced to man the doors of the marriage hall and escort VIPs visiting the place. And police wireless and departmental transport facilities were recklessly made use of in the marriage and its preparations. Soon the issue was hijacked by the subordinate police officers of the city who gave press statements that police officials were allotted duties in the marriage a la police duties in a security operation and expressed fears that those who failed to budge would be victimised and likely to be removed from their coveted posts in the city police. The Police Commissioner openly defended his action in the interview to a private TV channel saying that every father puts his heart to celebrate his daughter's marriage a grands frais as his parting gift and he was not an exception.

CONSCIENTIOUS POLICING:

Conscientious policing is raised on the bedrock of committed and non-corruptible policing. Serious and committed policing is conditio sine qua non for professional policing and professional policing presupposes duties and responsibilities taking precedence over personal comforts and safety. Being conscientious brings depth and width to the profession and raises policing to nobler heights. Corruption in whatever form is the antithesis of this. It pulls down the police from its elevated position as the national asset and insurance against the atrophy of national values, security and well-eing of the hoi polloi.

A case of dowry death reported against a retired high court judge and his family in February 1992 was referred to the state investigation agency for investigation. The investigation made out a case for chargesheet against the retired judge and five other persons including his wife, son, two daughters and another person The chief of the investigating agency in the rank of IGP being egregiously corrupt and close to the retired judge, dragged his feet from further proceedings in the case. The Superintendent of Police who was supervising the investigation of the case wanted to take the investagation to its logical end. But, arrests in the case were prevented and chargesheet was unduly delayed from above. The insistence of the Superintendent of Police, to chargesheet the case as the logical step of the investigation process cost him his post and he was transferred in July 1992 to the State Home Guards as the head of its training wing. The case remained frozen sans chargesheet for more than 1 ½ years sinsyne till the IGP was transferred out of the organisation in 1993. The case was later chargesheeted in March 1994 with the retired judge and his two daughters dropped from the chargesheet on the basis of the evidences tampered at later stages. The dropped names were later included in the chargesheet on the orders of the judge trying the case. The IGP who tried to stall the wheel of the legal process subsequently succeeded in gaining entry to a sensitive police organisation like the CBI and held the job till 1997.

PROFESSIONAL OBJECTIVITY:

A police organisation open to public pressures can do no policing worth the name. They very idea of being receptive to pressures and interferences is sysptomatic of lack of

will for objectivity and justice. Criminal elements take advantage of such opportunities to drive the police and the policing on the wrong rails. Pressures often render the police to commit crimes under the veil of authority either by protecting criminals or more dangerously, by replacing them with innocent people as criminals. The possibility of being open to the pressures of the rich and powerful deprives the police of its credibility. A police force that works at the behest of the rich and powerful safeguards the interests of the rich and powerful only. It would thus be factious and a villain to the hoi polloi. Does democratic India need such a police force to perpetuate the tyranny of the poor and helpless by the rich and powerful? Democratic India tolerated such a police in the last five decades. India and its people must now abraid to the situation and spawn a police that behooves to the trust laid on it.

The aberration of professional objectivity is the Achille's heel of the police of independent India. The problem was simple in British India where ruler and ruled were distinctly bifurcated and ipso facto the loyalty of the police was perspicaciously defined unlike that of the Indian republic of the democratic genre where people rule themselves through elected representatives. Here the loyalty of police to the public and public law is the professional ethic: misplaced loyalty to an individual, a family, a party or an ideology at the cost of the general public is an apostasy from the inviolable professionalism of the police. The police in a democracy is the guardian of public interests and public safety unlike in the raj where the police protected the interests of the raj. This distinction is forgotten in independent India where mental fetters are yet to be broken and legacies of the British rule continue inveterated. How can a police that stays loyal to personal,

familial or party interests ever discharge its functions objectively to law and general public? What can its locus standi be when a different person or party comes to power? A sequacious police is an asset to any individual or party and no sensible individual or party distances it in the name of the professional ethics. It is the paravant duty of the police not to breach the edifice of the police organisation and its spirit by misprising its professional standards. This infrangible obligation is thrown to the winds in the maelstrom of career advancements by the self-seeking gendarmerie of the Indian republic.

In the perverted situation of India where the loyalty of the police to those in power rather than to professional ideals is a reality, none can vouch that police responsibilities would be carried out strictly on merit of each case. Factional loyalties have the singular potentiality of blasting fairness and impartiality. It renders professional loyalty meaningless. A mature and sober political leadership can make up for the Achilles' heel of the fractured loyalties of the police organisation. Indian police needs a sober organisation above to bring it on rails of carrying out its responsibilities. The neoteric judical activism, as far as periodical review of the progress of investigation of some cases of national importance is concerned, is a welcome step, though in normal circumstances, such a judicial review would have amounted to gratuitous interference with the independent functioning of the investigating authority.

CHANGING VALUES:

Corruption of Indian police quite possibly is consectaneous of the degringolade of values in Indian life of the post-independent era. Indian police cannot stay sequestered from developments around while there are marked falls in standards of diligence and integrity in other walks of life. It adopted and adapted to the corrupt surroundings and the result is extant corrupt police, India finds itself with.

The basic lures of corruption in Indian context are money and power. As government service even at higher rungs lost charm in terms of monetary comforts and prestige and power, it attracted only the second bests or the lesser from the crème de la crème of the country's youth, who in turn were left in lurches in the service to mend themselves. This started a mad rush to the res gestae of pelf and power at the cost of professional dignity and integrity. The situation led to corruption and brought shifts in the concepts of diligence and professional loyalty and rearranged the service objectives with priority to filling the coffers of money and power. Organisational objectives were completely lost sight of. Shifts in diligence helped to build money-power while shifts in loyalties moulded proximity to power-brokers in efforts to maximise individual behoofs after throwing professional ideals to dogs. The degeneration spread in leaps and buonds with the passage of time as the organisational commitments became demode and pragmatism taught that immediate personal interests are the center of leading a good life. This was the beginning of corruption of Indian police in a big way.

A major factor responsible for the corruption of Indian police is the gross fall of its professional pride since independence. Crass and insensitive handling of the police

and police matters by political leaders frustrated the high morale and sense of belonging of the police force. Attempts to suppress and gain complete hold over the police in democratic India affected the force adversely and injected a sense of inadequacy in the force. Once the centripetal force that bound the force together was squandered, centrifugal forces took over and dissipating attitudes behaviors and influences ruled the roost to bring the Indian police to the present triste state.

Motivation to achieve organisational goals and show results being weakened is the inevitable manifestation of the fall of professional pride. The police which once prided in enforcing law, maintaining order and ensuring peace and security of the hoi polloi, lost all its enthusiasm for these ends as they became factors of politicking and lost importance independent of political relevance as crimes, criminals and law and order and their handling by the police became accrescently tools of political convenience. The development shattered the professional pride of the police and struck a blow to their motivation towards the organisational ends. No organisation can exist sans a driving force to sustain it. The result is a vacuum of a drive to carry the police onward. The vacuum is filled by corruption. Indian police find in corruption a way to sustain itself in absence of any organisational objectives to drive it onward.

Myopic and maffled approaches of the police often lead to untold miseries and blatant violation of basic rights of simple individuals. A daughter of an influential man in 1986 eloped with a man against the wishes of her parents and was hiding in the neighbouring state of Karnataka. The couple were in their twenties and decently

employed. The chief of intelligence of Karnataka was sought assistance to trace the couple and ensure that the daughter rejoins her parents. The intelligence machinery started to work in festinated zeal and the couple were traced in Bangalore and were separated. The man was held in illegal confinement and exposed to umpteen threats while arrangements were made to call the influential man to rejoin his daughter. The man in confinement was set free only after the influential man reached back his home with his daughter. The action of the police in this case perspicaciously is against the law of the land and violated the basic rights of a young couple.

STRUCTUAL CHANGES:

The first and foremost job to do to bring back the police on rails is to extricate the police from the unhealthy influence of all hues by making it responsible to an independent Authority with absolute powers to take decisions on matters of policing and police organisation. The Authority should be a professional body of men and women of proven probity and competence, who reached a stage from where they need not sacrifice their convictions to appease those in power as members. A working arrangement is to be devised by which the Authority becomes responsible directly to the legislature and functions independently a la the judiciary, the Central Vigilance Commission, the

Comptroller and Auditor General or the Chief Election Commissioner.

Creation of a Core Group of people adept in assessing men and character within the aforesaid Police Authority helps to create a feeling of confidence and job security in police and prod to discharge duties fearlessly. This Group that oversees the work of police personnel from a distance should be ultimately responsible for all career decisions in the police force. The responsibility of senior officers in assessing the work of the subordinates that forms the major embarrassment of the present Indian police dispensation must be limited to giving opinion about the performance of their subordinates to the Core Group; the expert Core Group must process the opinion by its own research, expertise and discretion and take responsible decision on its own research, expertise and discretion and take responsible decision on its own. The Group must be made responsible for all development plans of the police, work assessment, job analyses, recruitment and management of human resources etc. Institution of such a Core Group to oversee the career development of police personnel without personal bias may bring revolutionary changes in police by committing it to its work-ethics and professional ends with single mindedness.

Police is not an odd -job boy of the government. It is not the hand-maid of politicians in or out of power. Police is an organisaion of professionals committed to the safety, security and well-being of the country. Justice and rule of law are the litmus tests available to achieve the ends. Once police miss the bus of justice and the rule of law, their goals of safety, security and well-being of the public remain a distant dream. They lose the credibility and respect of the public, so essential for effective and proficient policing. The fear that the police inspire can not take it far in the absence of credibility,

respect and sympathy of the public. Once the police lose their usefulness in political and power gameplans consequent to losing public credibility, their political patrons will discard them like used condoms. The best bet for the police is to be professional and committed to their responsibilities towards the administration of justice. Police would forget this need only at their own peril. Doing anything violative of its raison d'etre like sabotaging the course of justice and the rule of law in the cauldron of corruption will prove fatal to the relevance of the police to the society.